Avoidance as a Coping Mechanism

Knowing when our loved ones are struggling can be incredibly difficult and can impede our ability to help them get the support they need. A major sign of emotional suffering is avoidance. When our loved ones avoid their issues, it is often a sign that something deeper is going on.

A common sign that people are suffering is their refusal to talk about anything personal. They might deflect your questions and be quick to change the subject. Their secrecy, denial and avoidance are often their coping mechanisms for deep pain. They might be angry if you ask too many questions or try to find out too much. They might resent your concern and your attempts at intervening. They might push you away, out of fear that you will get too close and find out too much. They are desperate in their efforts to preserve their privacy. They don’t want people interfering, often because they don’t want them to worry, and because they don’t want to be a burden on them.

When people are avoiding their pain, it is often because they are filled with fear. They’re afraid of doing the hard work required to heal. They’re afraid of people judging, rejecting, criticizing and looking down on them. They’re afraid that people will invade their privacy. More often than not, when people are using avoidance as a coping mechanism, they aren’t ready to confront their addictions and mental health issues. They’re not ready to let go of their drugs of choice. They’re not ready to admit they have a problem. Often people’s fear is that outside intervention and concern will force them to confront their issues and finally get help.

Very often people will avoid the truth of their illnesses because they don’t want anything or anyone to keep them from doing what they want to do. When we’re entrenched in our addictive cycles, we don’t want to be interrupted or deterred. Our priority is getting high. We are willing to risk everything, all for the feelings of escapism we get from our drugs of choice. We are self-medicating and numbing ourselves, and we don’t want that relief from our pain to be jeopardized. We can panic at the thought of our drug being taken away from us, so we continue to avoid people who might be concerned, and we avoid the truth.

Avoidance is one of the many coping mechanisms we use when we’re struggling with addiction and mental health issues. Understanding our avoidance brings us one step closer to getting to the root of our issues so that we can finally work to heal.

Riverside Recovery is a drug and alcohol treatment center offering a full continuum of care for people suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. We understand the emotional challenges of addiction recovery and are here to support you. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.